Product Reviews

Wigs

Wigs can be fairly expensive but you can save money by repurposing the wig for various characters. Take into consideration that synthetic wigs will wear out faster with more use. I would like to suggest that you don’t go to cheap, as you can get more out of your wig over a longer period of time. Look at the material, polyester offers more durability and flexibility in styling. Please note some synthetic wigs should never be exposed to heating elements like curling irons or hair dryers as they will melt. Read the label. With some wigs you can use heating elements but still be careful if they are not made from human hair. Make sure that your flat Iron or curling iron has a dial where you can control the heat. Settings should be low or medium. The only hair that you can go high on is human hair. A full wig of human hair is very expensive. I personally use extensions. They run about $125.00 for a set of two 19” extensions that run the width of your head.

Another note is to keep your wigs maintained so that you get extra wear by washing and brushing them. Hot water and a mild or baby shampoo works well. Do use conditioner as this will help in keeping them detangle. If you still must brush your wig, do so once it’s dry.  Use a detangling brush, using small sections starting from the bottom.

I found a way to straighten frizzy or curly wigs. Set the wig up on a tripod in bathtub and pour extremely hot water on the wig. Then comb through conditioner. Run hot water a second time to get the conditioner out and let dry. It will dry straight.

Now here is a tip, if your character is much younger than you are, don’t try and style the wig to fit the character completely, style it to fit your face first and then work around the traits of the character.

 With Madame Red’s wig it really befits a much smaller and younger face. I chose to get a longer wig and then cut it down to where I felt it fit my features.

 You can also apply hair products such as gels, foams or hairspray to get the style you want.

Makeup

Based on your costume, various makeup applications may be necessary. Many of the manga series portrays pale or white faced characters. There is a variety of makeup that you can use to achieve this look. If you like sticking to foundation makeup, lighten it up a couple of shades and apply several layers.

There are makers of face paint out there like Mehron Makeup www.mehron.com that can incorporate additional flesh pieces to take you into a 3D look. A grease pencil can be your best friend when it comes to doing your eyes. In addition to your eyes are your eye brows. In some cases you eyebrow color will need to match your hair color. Yes, I mean even if you hair color is blue. Look at your character, what is their eyebrow color? Even if they don’t have eye brows they should be neutralized in color or to match the hair color. The other reason why I mention this is that keeping the eyebrows the same color as your hair enhances the character more and takes away from your human look.  For instance when I portrayed Madame Red I used red lip liner with sprits of hair spray in between the layers of lip liner on my eyebrows. This preserved the color and kept it from running during the day. It’s already unnatural to where colored wigs with your regular pigment so why not change it.

Contact Lenses

To enhance or take on the exact look of your character you may need to change your eye color. In fact it may also be the look of your eyeball all together. There are some fantastic lenses out there that cover the entire eye or just the iris. They come in various colors, patterns and icons. In my research I understand that the opening of the lens may impair your vision being able to see from side to side.

Get to know the lens manufactures. There are different size openings to the lenses. You want to get the widest millimeter opening without taking away from your look. Costs of the lenses vary from as little as $24.00 a set to as much as $300.00. The reason for this is the wear of the lenses. The more expensive the longer use based on time. The $300.00 lenses may last up to a year with several uses; where as the cheaper lenses may only be a one-time use.  
Based on your eye color as well there are some limitations to dark colored eyes in being able to wear white contact lenses without the dark eye color coming through. Research if you can achieve full coverage of color based on the color of your eyes versus the lens color. Make sure that your lens provider has a wear and care section on either their packaging or website. These are your eyes, take care of them.

For those of you who use prescription contacts many manufactures have the opportunity to provide these unusual lenses with your prescription. They may cost a little more but it’s not that much. Again it will be limited use. I found that standard time on lenses is from 90 days to 12 months.

Costumes

This is where you come alive. Know that when you enter an anime conference and you have a worthy costume that you will be stopped over and over to get your picture taken. This can be very exciting as people clamor for your attention.

Be ready to pose. Create your costume to the upmost detail as this will best identify who you are. The more detail the closer you are to your character. Now you can buy costumes online. But not everything will be there, such as all the accessories or weapons.  Many characters are defined by their weapons, details or totums.  It actually may define the character.  For example Kadash from Final Fantasy carrying “Mother” around in a box.  It explains more of the storyline.  Plus you become more recognizable.  Also, your character may take on different accessories depending on which story your pulling it from.  This gives you many directions to go into keeping the base of your character the same just different accessories.

Many of the add-ons to your cosplay can be homemade.

Fooly Cooly homemade cosplay

If you are good with a sewing machine I think this is where a cosplayer really stands out. When I had made the Kaiko vocaloid costume the details all had to be applied by hand. This of course made the costume recognizable. Right down to the hand-sewn crystals on the lining of the dress.  You also don’t have to start from scratch.  If you have  pieces that you can put together you may just have to put a little more into them to make them stand out.  This just takes a little arts and crafts.

In the Keito Cantarella costume seen here we used a long jacket and sewed on lace to add a more elegant look.

Now I am not above purchasing a costume as there are some out there with such great detail that I would not even challenge this. I would just find how much more you can add to the base product before spending a lot of money on purchasing the accessories.